When discussing the patient experience, we focus a great deal, of course, on the patient. But it is important to remember that the wellbeing of your staff is a major driver of the patient experience.
The sense of being appreciated and cared for comes from the administrators themselves and trickles down through the front-line staff managers. This top-down feeling of being fulfilled in the work that you do directly influences the caregiver and, therefore, the way the patient responds to his care in the hospital.
If you want your hospital to offer a great patient experience, the employees there must feel appreciated, engaged, and fulfilled. Below are approaches to ensure that your staff feels appreciated, and in turn, provide the kind of care that will positively influence the experience of your patients.
Staff members need to feel that they are recognized and know that they are appreciated. This can be addressed in both big and small ways. Large, one-time events like banquets and Employee of the Year recognitions are a great way to express a grand sense of appreciation, but there are smaller gestures that can be made throughout the year. Personal words of encouragement or handwritten thank you notes to managers and front-line staff boost employee morale.
Recognitions that involve the patients themselves are also a huge bolster to the internal spirit within the hospital. Allow patients to share their thoughts on commendable employees that they have come into contact with during their stay. These “shining stars” can be recognized within their own departments or within the hospital as a whole.
These small acknowledgments make your staff feel recognized and appreciated. This feeling of appreciation will encourage employees to take pride in their work, which ultimately affects the patient. But, organizations cannot stop at here – this is a good start, but it cannot be all that is done.
Staff recognition is important, but it is just as important to have constant communication with the staff at your hospital. One way this can be accomplished is by surveying employee satisfaction regularly – annually at minimum. Asking for their input is a great way to get a feel for the environment in which your employees work, but the communication cannot end there.
It is important to not only survey your employees, but to act. Look at what members of your staff are saying. Listen to the topics that come up frequently. Once you have identified the main areas where improvement is needed, act on them. After you understand the results of your survey, set goals, make concrete plans of action, and create expectations to work on for the next year.
You can also use a staff survey to ascertain the high points of your hospital. Take the time to explain to the staff what your organization does well in addition to opportunities for improvement. Report back to your staff regularly on how your plans for improvement are going. By making employees feel engaged in their workplace, they are more likely to serve their patients better.
It is important to ensure that every employee at your health center feels fulfilled. You do this by reminding them of just how important their role within the hospital is. Make sure that your staff understands the “whys” of what they do. Every position within a health system impacts patient care and the patient experience. Emphasize that every member of your staff – from EVS to dietary services to billing – leaves an impression on the patients in the hospital where they work.
This type of encouragement takes regular communication with the front line staff. Use an open dialogue to inform managers on information and inspiration that they can take back their front line team members. Explain to them the importance of encouraging the staff working under their leadership and how much every action ultimately affects the patients, even if not directly.
By making sure every employee at your hospital feels appreciated, engaged, and fulfilled, you will create an environment that ultimately creates a better experience for the patient. While it may seem obvious, every employee has a role to play in the patient’s experience. Appreciated, engaged and fulfilled employees will provide a much more positive patient encounter within your facility.